With construction of the new Festival Market Square underway on the corner of McCamly and Jackson streets, city leaders like Interim City Manager Susan Bedsole hope it'll be a catalyst to bring more business and foot traffic to the area.
"What we were really looking for after taking a lot of stakeholder and citizen input was something that had versatility," Bedsole said.
The site, formally a smaller city-owned plaza used for the weekly farmer's market, sits across the street from the Kellogg Co. Developers plan to incorporate large permanent canopies into the design for markets, outdoor concerts, and public seating to ultimately make it a year-round venue.
"That is our vision, even in the winter in the hardest of times, be it an ice skating rink or any other type of event, I always liked those ice sculpture contest for example, this would be a great place to accommodate that event," Bedsole said.
The $1.2 million price tag is being covered through private grant money. The city plans to cover the $300,000 needed for the second phase of the projec, which entails constructing the canopies. The market is the final large project in what has been five years and $85 million worth of revitalization efforts downtown and on Michigan Ave.
But beyond the venue itself, Rob Peterson, the downtown development director with Battle Creek Unlimited says he's hopeful there will be a large economic impact that'll ripple through the area.
"People want to go to the center of their community, they want their downtown to be the civic, cultural, and commerce center of their community," Peterson said. "We're seeing a resurgence now, because that's what people want."
Peterson says the city has a 'Retail Acceleration Program' in place to make it easier for people to open up businesses downtown, and the market square redevelopment will offer one more reason to do business in the area.
"We're finding more people wanting to bring retail downtown, more community groups are wanting to host their events downtown," he said "This is one of the anchors that's going to help bring people downtown, that'll hopefully feed more traffic into retail stores."
The majority of the project should be completed by mid-November and the canopies should be installed by next spring. Peterson says the goal is to have the Market Festival Square open for business by next year's farmer's market season.